One of the biggest questions I hear from authors is “How can I earn more money?” This is closely followed by “How can I get more book sales?”
Obviously, the two are linked—and if you want to make a full-time living as an author, you need to know how to market and sell books.
Let’s take a look at 10 different ways you can get more book sales and, hence, make more money, helping you become the full-time author you want to be.
1. Market Research
When it comes to getting book sales, some of the work needs to take place up front—even before you write! If you do this part well, all the other ways of getting sales become much more effective.
Before you even start putting words down, you should do some market research on your topic, audience, and goals.
The information you want to find from your research includes:
- What keywords people are searching for
- What people like about your competitor’s books
- What they don’t like about them
- What your audience wishes your competitors covered, but didn’t
You can find all this information on Amazon in the reviews of your competitors’ books or by doing some solid keyword research, as this article covers in detail.
2. Persuasive Book Description
Your book description is largely responsible for converting interested browsers into buyers of your book. There are two parts to your description: the first 3-4 lines that are always visible, and the rest of it that is only revealed if someone clicks the “Read More” link.
Something like 80% of people never read more than the first line before they make up their minds. So that first line has to be able to immediately persuade people they need your book!
To write a great book description, you can use one of the following formulas:
For fiction: Hook -> Synopsis -> “If you like XYZ book, you’ll like this” -> Call to Action
There’s a full post on writing a fiction blurb here.
For nonfiction: Hook -> Problem / Solution -> Ideal Outcome -> What Makes You Qualified to Write This Book -> Transformative Benefits -> Call to Action
In both cases, that first line is called “the Hook,” and it’s critical! It needs to grab your reader emotionally and make them remember why they were searching for a book on this topic or genre while showing that your book is the perfect choice… all in the length of a tweet!
This takes some practice to get the hang of, but by writing a ton of hooks and testing them out on friends and family, you can get an idea for what catches their attention and what makes their eyes glaze over.
For nonfiction writers, in your problem / solution section, you want to show you understand your readers’ problem and how your book can solve it for them.
Your ideal outcome section is where you show readers what life could be like if they fixed their problem.
Next, you tell them why you are qualified to write this book. Then, in the transformative benefits portion, you list out, often in bullet form, how your content will transform your readers’ lives.
Finally, in both fiction and nonfiction, you want to include call to action to remind readers to scroll up and click that buy button.
Having a series, for either fiction or nonfiction, is an excellent way to increase your sales.
For fiction, you obviously take the same set of characters and continue the story.
For nonfiction, there are a variety of ways you can do a series. First, you can target the same group of readers and solve a variety of problems for them, offering a book for each problem. For instance, you might tackle the topic of being a single dad and write books that help them deal with a variety of challenges in their lives. This technique will increase your sales the most initially because of the cross-sale potential. If a reader is in your target market, chances are they’ll have more than one problem around the topic, so they’ll buy several of the books in the series.
The other way to create a series is by solving the same problem for different groups of people. For example, think of Chicken Soup for the Soul, Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul, Chicken Soup for the Single Mom’s Soul, etc. This tactic increases sales because your readers buy these books as gifts or recommend them to others in those different target markets.
4. Book Reviews
Very few people like to be the first one to try something. According to Everett Rogers’s Diffusion of Innovations theory, only about 14% of people are “early adopters.” Everyone else wants to know what other people think of things first.
Put simply, we’re afraid of looking stupid and wasting our money, even if it’s only 99 cents.
So the more reviews you can get for your book, the more you can give social proof that other people have bought, and hopefully liked, your book. And with that, it becomes easier to turn an interested visitor into a book buyer.
This is especially important when the book is first released, so you need to get those early reviews in fast while you’ve still got the buzz around your launch.
5. Box Sets
Box sets are an awesome way to increase your book sales. The audience for single books and box sets doesn’t overlap much, so you won’t lose many sales of your single books if you also offer a box set.
There are two ways to do box sets. One is to bundle just your own books; the other involves teaming up with other authors in your genre or niche to do multi-author box sets. This second way helps to increase your reach as the other authors’ fans buy the box set and then discover you as an author.
When doing a multi-author box set, though, you have to be careful to not include any of your books that are in KDP Select unless you are the author hosting the box set. Amazon considers this to be against its terms and conditions for KDP Select because of the apparent change in publisher.
Also keep your pricing in mind. If you’re selling your box sets on Amazon, you don’t want the price to be more than $9.99 or you go down to 35% royalty. So only include the number of books that will keep your price between $2.99 and $9.99. This doesn’t apply if you’re listing your box set on places like iBooks, Kobo, or Barnes & Noble.
6. Different Formats
Providing your book in a variety of formats, from digital to paperback to audiobook, is another great way to increase your sales.
Some people will only buy books in certain formats. So without these extra formats available, you are losing sales because people can’t get your book in the format they want. Always be where your reader is!
7. Website and Subscriber List
One of the more effective, longer-term strategies to increase your sales is to create your own website. To do this effectively, you need to have control over all the important aspects of your site, so you’ll want to use WordPress. This way, you can have control over what plugins you add to your site for extra functionality and you can sell things directly from your site without breaking another company’s terms and conditions.
You can easily set up a WordPress site by following this post.
The first page you’ll need is your home page, or “landing page,” because it’s likely to be where your visitors “land” when they first come to your site. There’s 9 things you need on your landing pages to help you start building your platform.
Another important page to have on your website is your book sales page, where you tell your reader about your book and provide them the link to buy it.
On your site, you should include a form that lets visitors sign up for your email newsletter. This helps build your platform by collecting a list of subscribers from your target market. That target market consists of people who’ve already read your book and other people who would be interested in reading a book like yours.
You’ll need to offer them something in return for signing up to receive emails from you. For nonfiction authors, you can do a mini course around your book topic and the problem you help people solve.
For fiction authors, a character back story or a prequel novella are both great free offers.
Once you’ve got a list of subscribers, you can email them and tell them more about your book, as well as any future books you write.
Publicity is another way to raise awareness about you and your book, and more awareness will result in more book sales… provided the publicity is geared to reach your target market.
The trouble is, how do you find a journalist, blogger, radio show, or TV show that wants to talk about your book?
One great method is to go to HelpAReporter.com (commonly known as HARO), where journalists are actively asking for information and stories. If you sign up to their free service, they send you an email three times a day that you can skim through to see if any of the requests fit with your book.
When you find something that fits, you simply email the listed email address and give them the information they want.
If you keep at this every day, pretty soon you’ll start to get seen in multiple places by your audience, reminding them you and your book exist—and the more they see you, the more likely they are to buy.
9. Virtual Book Tours
Virtual book tours are an interesting way to get extra awareness and, therefore, sales. A virtual book tour is a targeted outreach promotion where you have a blog post about your book written on a series of different book blogs over one to two weeks. You usually get about a post a day.
To spice it up even further, you can also include guest podcast interviews in the mix.
You, or your tour company, give the bloggers a free review copy of your book around three weeks before your tour. Then the bloggers agree to write an honest review of around 200 to 300 words on their blog with a link to your book on Amazon. Often, they’ll also leave a review on Amazon and GoodReads for you (helping with that social proof!).
Then both you and your tour company (if you’re using one) list out the dates of your blog tour on your website with links to all the different reviews as you get them.
10. Blogging and Guest Posting
The more readers see you, and the more value you provide for them, the more likely they are to buy your book. One great way to get your work out there is to add a blog to your website. It’s a great way to keep your website current, which both Google and your subscribers like, as well as giving your readers lots of new information about your topic.
Plus, each blog post gives you the opportunity to add more new subscribers to your list so you can email them about your book and your future books.
If other authors in your genre or niche also have blogs, you can then do what’s called a guest post, like this one you’re currently reading, and write a post for each other’s blogs. Once again, like a multi-author box set, this gets you in front of a whole new audience of potential readers.
Whether you’re traditionally or indie published, the task of marketing your books lands squarely on your shoulders. But never fear: there’s nothing inherently difficult about any of these 10 items. It just requires time and commitment to see it through.
If you take action on one of these items at a time, even for just 15 minutes a day, over time you’ll see an increase in the number of books you’re selling. Each new book you release will become easier and easier to launch and you’ll start earning more and more from your books.
And isn’t that the goal?
Now get out there and get marketing! You can do it!
Want to learn more marketing secrets to help increase your sales? Read on!